Opportunities in Americas, but Panama Canal having negative impact

Panama Canal

This year’s Air & Sea Cargo Americas conference and exhibition kicked-off in Miami today where the first discussions revealed the negative impact the Panama Canal is having on airfreight but also highlighted the opportunities on offer in the region.

The event is held every two years and is taking place at the Miami Airport & Convention Center until Friday and more than 6,000 delegates are set to attend over the three days.

The first session of the event was Trade Trends in The Americas, which saw a focus by a panel of four on what markets in the Americas region are showing strong growth for airfreight operators, but also centred on negative trends affecting the region.

Among the panelists were DHL Global Forwarding’s chief executive officer for the Americas, Mathieu Floreani, who says he feels the most opportunities for growth exist in Mexico and Colombia.

Floreani tells delegates despite the problems in the likes of Brazil and Argentina, there is still growth in Latin America, especially in perishables such as cherries from Argentina and Chile and e-commerce continues to boom and present good growth prospects.

He adds DHL looks to “get away from the major trends” and look for opportunities in local markets and in other untapped areas.

Copa Airlines senior director for cargo, Jaime Alvarez Price, explains to delegates he sees opportunities at present mainly in Colombia, where the pharma market is proving especially buoyant.

But he also says that the situation in South America is “not good” which is affecting the Panama carrier and adds that the Caribbean is doing well while how well Cuba will grow is the unknown.

Alvarez Price also says the Panama Canal has helped the seafreight industry, but not airfreight and is having a negative affect on his carrier. He feels airfreight will continue to lose share to ocean, and with the canal being widened it will mean more ocean liners will be passing through.

“What we have seen is more and more of the airfreight is being transported by sea,” Alvarez Price says. “There are more ships coming into the port more frequently than before,” he adds.

Alvazez Price also says the number of trade barriers for trade in Latin America and regional trading blocs had also grown, both having a downward effect on the airfreight industry.

The negative impact of the slowdown in China and the poor performing oil industry were also proving challenges and having an impact, while political instability in some countries such as Argentina, and Venezuela were also said to be affecting airfreight markets for the worse in Latin America.